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Factors Influencing Ultraviolet Disinfection Performance Part I: Light Penetration to Wastewater Particles

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A technique is described for measuring UV absorbance and internal scattering characteristics of wastewater solids. Wastewater solids developed as part of trickling filter and activated-sludge processes were observed to be strictly absorbing, with light attenuation following the Beer–Lambert law. Absorbance of solids ranged from 3300 to 569 000 cm−1 Although absorbance was found to vary with treatment process type, even the lowest measured value is sufficient to block transmission of UV light to solid material. It is unlikely that wastewater treatment processes can be tailored to allow light transmission to solid material. Extremely high absorbance observed indicates that UV light can only penetrate particles because of high particle porosity, not by transmission through solid material. Also, regions exist within some particles that completely block applied UV light. Longer wavelength UV light was not observed to penetrate particles better than lower wavelength UV light.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: May 1, 1999

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  • Water Environment Research® (WER®) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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